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Than beauty could displayed.-But mark me;
Ang. And his offence is so, as it appears Accountant to the law upon that pain.
Ang. Admit no other way to save his life, (As I subscribe not that, nor any other, But in the loss of question,) that you, his sister,
I do not think so well of the conjecture in the latter part of this note, as I did some years ago ; and therefore I should wish to withdraw it. Not that I am inclined to adopt the idea of Mr. Ritson, as I see no ground for supposing that Isabella bad any mask in ber hand. My notion at present is, that the phrase these black masks signifies nothing more than black masks; according to an old idiom of our language, by which the demonstrative pronoun is put for the prepositive article. See the Glossary to Chaucer, edit. 1775; This, Thise. Shakspeare seems to have used the same idiom not only in the passage quoted by Mr. Steevens from Romeo and Juliet, but also in King Henry IV, Part I, Act I, sc. iii :
and, but for these vile guns, “ He would himself have been a soldier." With respect to the former part of this nute, though Mr. Ritson has told us that “enshield is CERTAINLY put by contraction for ensbielded,” I have no objection to leaving my conjecture in its place, till some authority is produced for such an usage of enshield or enshielded. Tyrwhitt.
There are instances of a similar contraction or elision, in our author's plays. Thus, bloat for bloated, ballast for ballastetos and waft for wafted, with many others. Ritson.
Sir William D'Avenant reads-as a black mask; but I am afraid Mr Tyrwhitt is too well supported in his Erst supposi. tion, by a passage at the beginning of Romeo and Juliet;
“ These happy masks that kiss fair ladies' brows,
Stecvens. 6 Accountunt to the law upon that pain.] Pain is here for penalty, punishment. Johnson.
As I subscribe not that,] To subscribe means, to agree to Milton uses the word in the same sense. So also, in Marlowe's Lust's Dominion, 1661 :
Subscribe to his desires.” Steevens. 8 But in the loss of question, ] The loss of question I do not well understand, and should rather read :
But in the toss of question.
Finding yourself desir'd of such a person,
Isab. As much for my poor brother, as myself:
In the agitation, in the discussion of the question. To toss an argument is a common phrase. Johnson.
This expression, I believe, means, but in idle supposition, or conversation that tends to nothing, which may therefore, in our author's language, be called the loss of question. Thus, in Corio. lanus, Act III, sc. i:
“ The which shall turn you to no other harm,
“ Than so much loss of time. Question, in Shakspeare, often bears this meaning. So in his Tarquin and Lucrece :
“ And after supper, long he questioned
“ With modest Lucrece, &c. Steevens. Question is used here, as in many other places, for conversation.
Malone, ( 9 Of the all-binding law;] The old editions read:
all building law. Johnson. The emendation is Theobald's Steevens.
or else let him suffer;] The old copy reads else to let him,” &c. Steevens.
Sir Thomas Hanmer reads more grammatically-"or else let him suffer." But our author is frequently inaccurate in the construction of his sentences. I have therefore adhered to the old copy. You must be under the necessity (to let, &c.] must be understood.
So, in Holinshed's History of Scotland, p. 150:"—asleep they were so fast, that a man might have removed the chamber over them, sooner than to have awaked them out of their drunken sleep.” Malone.
The old copy reads-supposed, not suppos’d. The second to in the line might therefore be the compositor's accidental repetition of the first. Being unnecessary to sense, and inju. rious to measure, I have omitted it.—The pas ; of Holinshed will furnish examples of every blunder to which printed works are liable, Steevens.
Then must your brother die. Isab. And 'twere the cheaper way: Better it were, a brother died at once,2 Than that a sister, by redeeming him, Should die for ever.
Ang. Were not you then as cruel as the sentence That you
have slander'd so?
Ang. You seem'd of late to make the law a tyrant;
Isab. O, pardon me, my lord; it oft falls out,
Ang. We are all frail.
Else let my brother die, If not a feodary, but only he,
- a brother died at once, ] Perhaps we should read:
Better it were, a brother died for once, &c. Johnson.
Ignomy in ransom,] So the word ignominy was formerly written. Thus in Troilus and Cressida, Act V, sc. iii : “ Hence, brother lacquey! ignomy and shame," &ć.
Reed. Sir William D'Avenant's alteration of these lines may prove a reasonably good comment on them :
"Ignoble ransom no proportion bears
“ To pardon freely given.” Malone. The second folio readsignominy; but whichsover reading we take, the line will be inharmonious, if not defective. Steevens
4 Nothing akin-] The old copy reads-kin. For this trivial emendation I am answerable. Steevens.
5 If not a feodary, but only he, &c.] This is so obscure, but the allusion so fine, that it deserves to be explained. A feodary was one that in the times of vassalage held lands of the chief lord, under the tenure of paying rent and service : which tenures were called feuda amongst the Goths. “Now, (says Angelo)
we are all frail;" —“Yes, (replies Isabella) if all mankind were not feodaries, who owe what they are to this tenure of imbecility, and who succeed each other by the same tenure, as well as my brother, I would give him up.” The comparing
Owe, and succeed by weakness.?
Nay, women are frail too. *Isab. Ay, as the glasses where they view themselves;
mankind, lying under the weight of original sin, to a feodary, who owes suit and service to his lord, is, I think, not ill imagined. Warburton. Shakspeare has the same allusion in Cymbeline :
senseless bauble, “ Art thou a feodarie for this act ?" Again, in the prologue to Marston's Sophonisba, 1606:
“ For seventeen kings were Carthage feodars.” Mr. M. Mason censures me for not perceiving that feodary signifies an accomplice. Of this I was fully aware, as it :upports the sense contended for by Warburton, and seemingly ac. quiesced in by Dr. Johnson.-Every vassal was an accomplice with his lord ; i. e. was subject to be executor of the mischief he did not contrive, and was obliged to follow in every bad cause which his superior led. Steevens.
I have shewn in a note on Cymbeline, that feodary was used by Shakspeare in the sense of an associate, and such undoubted. ly is its signification here. Dr. Warburton's note therefore is certainly wrong, and ought to be expunged.
After having ascertained the true meaning of this word, I must own, that the remaining part of the passage before us is extremely difficult. I would, however, restore the original rea. ding thy, and the meaning should seem to be this :-We are all frail, says Angelo. Yes, replies Isabella ; if he has not one associate in his crime, if no other person own and follow the same criminal courses which you are now pursuing, let my brother suffer death.
I think it, however, extremely probable that something is omitted. It is observable, that the line "-Owe, and succeed thy weakness,” does not, together with the subsequent line, “Nay, women are frail too,”-make a perfect verse : from which it may be conjectured that the compositor's eye glanced from the word succeed to weakness in a subsequent hemistich, and that by this oversight the passage is become unintelligible.
Malone. 6 Owe,] To owe is, in this place, to own, to hold, to have possession. Fobrson. by weakness.] The old copy reads--thy weakness.
Steevens. The emendation was made by Mr. Rowe. I am by no means satisfied with it. Thy is much more likely to have been printed by mistake for this, than the word which has been substituted. Yet this weakness and by weakness are equally to be understood. Sir W. D'Avenant omitted the passage in his Law against Lovers, probably on account of its difficulty. Malone.
Which are as easy broke as they make forms.8
I think it well;
Isab. I have no tongue but one: gentle my lord, Let me intreat you speak the former language.?
Which are as easy broke as they make forms.] Would it not be better to read ?
take forms. Fobnson. 9 In profiting by them,] In imitating them, in taking them for examples. Fobnson.
If men mar their own creation, by taking women for their ex. ample, they cannot be said to profit much by them.-—Isabella is deploring the condition of woman-kind, formed so frail and credulous, that men prove the destruction of the whole sex, by taking advantage of their weakness, and using them for their own purposes. She therefore calls upon Heaven to assist them. This, though obscurely expressed, appears to me to be the meaning of this passage. M. Mason.
Dr. Johnson does not seem to have understood this passage. Isabella certainly does not mean to say that men mar their own creation by taking women for examples. Her meaning is, that men debase their nature by taking advantage of such weak pitiful creatures.-Edinburgh Magazine, Nov. 1786. Steevens. 1 For we are soft as our complexions are, And credulous to false prints.] i. e. take any impression.
“: How easy is it for the proper fulse
- speak the former language.] Isabella answers to his cir. cumlocutory courtship, that she has but one tongue, she does not understand this new phrase, and desires him to talk his former language, that is, to talk as he talked before. Johnson.